Product//Review::Rondel bike shoe

This shoe really fills a niche that I believe to be previously vacant and in high demand… a shoe that accepts two/four bolt cleats, looks good, feels comfortable to walk all day in, and can be worn at most people’s office jobs.

Well, maybe not with my fanboi lacing.

All the same… you can’t wear your keen sandals to a meeting with your boss(Okay, maybe you can, but most people can’t.) You can’t wear your Sidi Genius all day walking around town with your friends. Even if you can, good god why would you? You can’t wear your SixSixOne Filters to a job interview at any place that pays over, say, a bartender’s salary. Now the Rondel… well…

The Rondel can do all these things. It does do all these things and while, no, I haven’t landed that job yet… I think it does them well.

It looks like an unassuming sneaker… but it’s devoid of flashy logos, phat skate tongues, and sneakery-materials.

So let’s talk features… it’s a leather shoe with a gum rubber sole, an elastic lace-keeper on the tongue, a perforated footbed, a link shaped reflector in the back, and a place for cleats on the sole.

That’s pretty much it. Everything you need, nothing you don’t.

Plus, I think it looks WAY better than the Chrome shoe.

And unlike the Chrome shoe, it’s leather… REAL LEATHER! ALL LEATHER! Not suede leather either, soft hide leather… so it looks far more classy and expensive than a pair of Chucks. Think samba, but softer and finer. Don’t get me wrong, I like the look of the Chrome shoes, but I wouldn’t wear them to an office expecting me to dress business casual. Chromes are too casual. And the comparison ends there, because YOU CAN ACTUALLY BIKE IN THE RONDELS.

The SPD compatible footbed is made of a lightweight semi-stiff plastic. The shoe is made by DZR shoes in China and the packaging – and actual shoes – flaunt this fact. The footbed is sandwiched between a gum rubber outsole(with cool insane doodle styling and chain link themed tread) and a perforated(thank god!) insole that is removable for washing or for replacing the SPD backplate. Included with the shoe is ONE backplate(one? really?) and two orange hard rubber SPD area blanks that will screw in to complete the outsole if you have cut out the SPD bed but want to castrate revert the shoe back to a walking shoe.

And let me say… it’s one hell of a fine walking shoe. Maybe it’s just my feet… but I love walking in these shoes. I really mean that. If you like the looks of this shoe and you don’t bike, you should consider getting it. I mean, they’re that good for walking.

It also, of course, makes for a very pleasant biking experience. Pedal strokes are reassuringly powerful and direct, with nearly no flex in the footbed during normal riding. I even believe these to be less flexy in the actual upper than my adidas mountain bike shoes. These aren’t some carbon race shoe, but for the level of comfort they provide when walking from the Embarcadero to Ghiradelli Square, I was astounded at the rigidity and feel they give when clipped in.

They aren’t the easiest things to clip in with, but clipping out has proved easy as cake and if you can’t clip in quickly with these, clipless probably isn’t for you.

As for the quality of craftsmanship… well, I expected better for $130, especially because the materials are so nice.

The shoes are comfortable for lounging when tied loosely, but they are only available in full sizes(plus 8.5) so odds are your foot size will require you to fit them with the lacing instead of just getting them to a happy medium and slipping them on and off your feet. That never works with shoes of this design, anyway.

For walking, they are as comfortable as my pair of adidas sambas, but not as comfortable as my adidas zx750. (for the record, my biggest quarrel with these shoes is that they are not adidas, ha!)

For biking, they require tight lacing and reward it with great comfort, power and feel. I can see them getting hot on hot days, but I can also see biking with them through snow and not having to worry about frostbite. They don’t do so well in the rain. They turn into buckets rather quickly in a serious downpour.

Are these the be-all-and-end-all of the cycling shoe? No. Not by a mile.

But do they prove the concept that you can bike to work, walk around all day, climb a few hills on your way to a bar, impress your friends while standing around in line and look good all without changing shoes? Yes. Magnificently. Best of all, your feet won’t hurt at the end of the day.

I love their style, I like their comfort, and for a shoe that does what these do they really are a pretty fair price. You’d spend more on a set of nice road shoes and a pair of sambas, anyway.

About the quality… 130 is a lot of money and the stitching and general craftsmanship is… well… decidedly what I’d expect for something that says “Made In China” on the side of the box… not necessarily what I’d expect for 130. They don’t look or feel like they’re going to break, and there’s only one thing that I would say is wrong with them(contacting Mission Workshop about that after the holiday, I won’t go into that until it’s resolved), but after wearing them for a week or so I’m thinking the quality could be stepped up a little in manufacturing. The design, materials, and engineering are all fantastic. It’s just that fit and finish I find it lacking. We’ll see about the one problem in a bit.

Update: I contacted Mission Workshop about the problem. Apparantly, a few shoes in the first run batch(I purchased mine before the flyer went out that they had landed) had a problem with the alignment of the cleat mount plates in the soles. Mine were only a couple mm off, but it meant I couldn’t adjust the spd cleats to be far enough away from the rubber side of the sole. I could clip in with them, and I even went on a 6o mile ride with them like that, but clipping out was difficult because twisting the cleat made the pedal hit the sole before it could disengage. I contacted Mission Workshop and they immediately got a new shoe to me in the mail for a free exchange. The new shoe is great, aligned perfectly, and I’ve been enjoying them anew ever since.

The whole ordeal was handled flawlessly and I’d say the SF store and headquarters provided excellent customer service. I will definitely be buying one of their bags, which are made in Colorado, as soon as I can afford one.

TL;DR : If I had to grade these shoes I’d give them an 8.5/10,  docking a point and a half for the craftsmanship quality of the shoes’ assembly. Everything else is stellar.


2 Responses to Product//Review::Rondel bike shoe

  1. Larry rated this product 5 stars Tue, January 15, Great shoe right out of the box. Cycling Protective Gear Wear

  2. David says:

    Really well written review. I am still on the fence about these shoes. There’s a reason why a hybrid walking and clipless riding shoe hasn’t been done before and it’s obviously not because nobody has thought of the idea. Jack of all trades, master of none?

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